ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – For more than a century, the Cathedral of St. Paul has held this awe-inspiring spot overlooking downtown and the river.
“The Cathedral of St. Paul engaged some of the best artists of the day,” Father John Ubel said.
Inside, the beautiful stone masonry and stained glass by famous artists like John La Farge make it difficult to look anywhere but inward.
“Everything about it just speaks to your soul that it’s a sacred place,” a parishioner said.
Yet in all their beauty and benevolence, the stained glass saints are subject to earthly elements.
“The fact that somebody several years ago took a rifle and shot a bullet into one of our rose windows necessitated us to survey the damage,” Father Ubel said.
The good news was the bullet hole was an easy fix.
“The bad news is your glass is separating from the lead,” Father Ubel said.
It’s a problem multiplied by the size and number of stained glass windows in the cathedral, and let’s just say Father Ubel was looking to his boss for a little help.
Enter the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit whose sole purpose is to preserve the cathedral as a community treasure. It didn’t take too long before they had raised over $200,000, which was enough to restore the giant east and west rose windows.
“Each of which is nearly 19 feet across, it’s a circle, so it’s hundreds of square feet of glass and now this past year we raised money for 18 additional smaller windows,” Father Ubel said.
Where would one find a vendor that could handle such a monumental task? The church asked local company Gaytee-Palmer to bring its over 100 years of experience to the project. The windows are soaked, cleaned, disassembled, releaded and reinstalled – each offering inspiration that will last at least another hundred years.
“If you take the time to look at them, to reflect, God’s light shines through in such beautiful and many ways,” Father Ubel said.
Father Ubel says this is very labor-intensive work. They still have a year or so to go before all the windows are redone.